December 20, 2017 / 12:13 PM / a year ago

Truckers need real rest, not kips in the cab, EU court rules

A driver walks near his truck as he collects beer from De Halve Maan brewery in Bruges, Belgium, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Truck drivers need to have a proper break and should not be allowed to take their prescribed weekly rest in their vehicles, the European Union’s top court ruled on Wednesday.

Under EU rules, drivers must have a daily rest period of at least 11 hours and a regular weekly rest period of 45 hours. The driver can choose to take their daily rest or a reduced weekly rest period in the vehicle only if it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.

Belgian transport company Vaditrans brought a case in 2014 seeking to annul a Belgian law that imposes a 1,800 euro ($2,131) fine if a truck driver takes a regular weekly rest period in the vehicle.

A Belgian court asked the EU court to determine whether the EU law contained an implied ban on taking the standard weekly rest period in the vehicle.

The EU court said the EU law only referred to the possibility of a reduced weekly rest of 24 hours, allowed under certain circumstances in the vehicle, so it therefore meant this should not apply to the standard 45-hour break.

If it were allowed, then the driver would be able to spend all rest periods in the vehicle, which would not improve drivers’ working conditions as the EU law intended.

The ruling comes as the European Union seeks to set minimum working conditions for those in casual employment and faces an east-west battle over rules on so-called posted workers, citizens working elsewhere in the bloc on salaries and conditions lower than the local labor force.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Hugh Lawson

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